DennisBanks was a Native American activist, teacher and author.
Banks was one of the co-foundersof The American Indian Movement (AIM), with fellow Native Americans RusselMeans and Clyde Bellecourt. AIM was formed in 1968 with the commitment of supportingfellow Native Americans and bringing to light unfair federal policies andpractices against fellow Native Americans. This was done by takeovers andoccupations.
Sadly, Banks passed away on October 30, 2017. Banks was born on April 12, 1937, onan Indian Reservation located in Leech Lake, Minnesota. At the age of five,Banks was uprooted and sent to a series of schools ran by the Bureau of IndianAffairs (BIA). These schools, “…sought to Christianize or “civilize” theirpupils” (encyclopedia.
com). To “civilize” the students, the schools downplayedor made the students forget about their Native American culture. Due to thisBanks lost the ability to speak his native language. After his graduation fromthe BIA schools at the age of 19, Banks entered the US Air Force. Banks wasreleased from his service sometime in the late 1950s. Upon his release Banksreturned home to Minnesota, upon his return, Banks had a hard time adjusting andfell into a cycle of “poverty, unemployment, alcoholism and crime.” In a quotefrom Banks on encyclopedia.
com he states, ‘”I was heading down a road that wasfilled with wine, whiskey, and booze” Banks later recalled. “Then I ended up inprison”‘ (encyclopedia.com). In 1966, he was sent to jail, while in jail he metthe other two co-founders of AIM. Overtime the movement began to spread andgain more members.